Coming in hot

From pre-conference workshops and site tours to plenary sessions and a packed exhibition, MOLTEN 2024 is set to stun.

As the world transitions to a clean-energy future, pyrometallurgy (the high-temperature processing of metals) might not be the first thing that comes to mind.

But this treatment method plays a vital role in recovering the critical minerals needed for decarbonisation.

This is what will be discussed at AusIMM’s 12th International Conference on Molten Slags, Fluxes and Salts (MOLTEN 2024) when it takes place in Brisbane from June 17–19.

“This year marks the first time since 1997 that the conference will be held in Australia,” conference co-chair and research fellow at the University of Queensland Dr Denis Shishin told Australian Mining.

“This homecoming is significant for the Australian metallurgical community and will foster a strong local presence.”

Dr Shishin has been involved in the chemistry and pyrometallurgy world since he finished high school. As a result, he is a strong advocate for its use in decarbonisation.

“Pyrometallurgical refining of metals such as copper and nickel plays a crucial role in decarbonisation and creating a circular economy,” he said.

“Countries committed to the energy transition must prioritise and promote onshore pyrometallurgical refining with advanced technologies, strict environmental standards, and efficient recycling practices.

“Revitalising and modernising this sector will be crucial to capitalise on Australia’s natural advantages.”

Dr Shishin sees MOLTEN 2024 as a catalyst for sustainable metal production.

“MOLTEN 2024 will foster collaboration,” he said. “Bringing together industry, academia and government officials sparks innovation in clean metal production for renewable energy needs.

“It also inspires the next generation. By showcasing the importance of molten materials, the conference can attract new talent who will develop the next generation of eco-friendly metal production techniques.”

Although the molten slags, fluxes and salts field may be specialised, Dr Shishin was quick to point out the global nature of the pyrometallurgy community.

“The molten field is a vibrant global network,” he said. “MOLTEN provides a unique platform for researchers from universities around the world to connect with industry engineers, fostering a sense of belonging for a highly skilled professional family.”

MOLTEN 2024 will focus on groundbreaking advancements and practical improvements because, while breakthrough discoveries are exciting, even incremental progress is crucial for the industry.

“All improvements, no matter how small, matter,” Dr Shishin said.

“We want researchers to feel equally proud whether they develop revolutionary new technologies or optimise existing processes to achieve a 0.1 per cent improvement in metal recovery. These seemingly small gains can have a significant cumulative impact on sustainability and profitability.”

As conference co-chair, Dr Shishin expects MOLTEN 2024 to be an especially stellar conference.

“We have reviewed the selected abstracts submitted to the conference, which was followed by a rigorous process for full research papers,” he said. “This guarantees a program featuring cutting-edge research and valuable insights.

“The design of the conference program was another key focus area. By strategically grouping researchers working on similar topics, we aim to spark dynamic discussions and facilitate collaboration.”

So who should be attending MOLTEN 2024?

“MOLTEN 2024 truly highlights Australian expertise,” Dr Shishin said. “In pyrometallurgy, passion for the field is the only prerequisite.”

This feature appeared in the May 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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